Agriculture sector under control: Misika

Despite the lingering drought effects, animal disease outbreaks, floods and the threat of the devastating fall-armyworm spelling disaster in the agriculture-sector, the ministry has said everything is under control. Speaking to The Villager, agriculture permanent secretary Percy Misika said the Office of the Prime Minister has a sound budget under the Directorate of Disaster and Risk Management to respond to any possible disaster.

He said whenever outbreaks occur; agriculture ministry requests the Office of the Prime Minister to procure pesticides to combat the outbreak. “Since outbreaks do not happen every year, the ministry does not keep huge quantities of pesticides due to the fact that, pesticides could result into obsolete should there be no outbreaks,” Misika said. He further said since the outbreak of army worm occurred, the ministry dispatched technical teams to the affected regions to assess the extent of the damage and to identify the pest and came up with mitigation measures. "Therefore, the ministry has embarked on facilitating the procurement of effective chemicals and additional spraying machines as well as engaging in bilateral consultation with various stakeholders,” he said.

Misika also said the technical team has also identified other types of worms apart from those identified already. “The technical identified other worms such as stalk borers, Boll worms and fall armyworm. However, fall armyworms are the ones prominent, destructive and difficult to control due to pesticides resistance,” he explained. Concurring with Misika, manager of research and development at Namibia Agricultural Union, Wallie Roux said there is hope for agriculture in this financial year despite all the setbacks. “Because of the good rains over most parts of the country there is definitely hope for the agriculture sector for this financial year. However, livestock producers are faced with a herd rebuilding period of up to two years before getting into full production again,” Roux said.

Previously, The Villager reported that government has been putting more efforts and resources to mitigate the impact of drought, which did not only affect the agriculture sector, but also the national economy as a whole. An estimated 700 000 (about 32% of the population) has been assisted so far from the drought relief interventions. As the hunger season reaches its peak, household food security continues to weaken as most households that were able to harvest last season are reported to have depleted their last season’s poor harvest and are now dependent on the retail market and the Government Drought Relief Food Programme to access food.

It was reported that last season’s harvest which was being supplemented with market purchases only lasted at most up to August this year leaving households completely dependent on the market and Drought Relief Food Programme to access food. Although the Government Drought Relief Food Programme is taking place in the regions, households in the northern communal crop producing regions argued that the drought relief food takes too long to reach them.

Last year this publication also reported that the agricultural sector only contributed very less towards the GDP due to drought related issues. Thus, the agricultural sector’s annual contribution to the GDP has dropped from 5% to below 3% in 2015, failing to meet the annual performance of 4% projected in the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4). The sector remains one of the backbones of Namibia’s economy and the good rainfall will have positive effects in the sector, as government is moving on to the NDP5.